Friday, June 19, 2009

Steve Kuhn Trio w/ Joe Lovano - Mostly Coltrane (ECM, 2009)

Pianist Steve Kuhn certainly has the pedigree for a John Coltrane tribute album. During a short period in 1960, when the saxophonist was completing his tenure with Miles Davis, Coltrane led a band of his own on the side at The Jazz Gallery in New York City with Kuhn as the pianist. Fifty years on and Kuhn returns the favor with a thoughtful if somewhat reverential album of songs written by or composed in honor of the great saxophonist. On the hot seat is Joe Lovano playing tenor saxophone (and torogato on "Spiritual") and rounding out the group are David Finke on bass and Joey Baron on drums. The songs that I enjoyed the most were the fast paced bebop of "Like Sonny" where Lovano is truly in his element, moving quickly through the shifting composition and playing with quick facility. "Configuration" takes the band into freer territory and is a very exciting performance with Lovano digging deep and recalling his early days in the loft jazz scene. "Welcome" and "Crescent" have a slower pace and are taken with an air of great humility, the group seems to be using the music to venerate and cherish the compositions and they perform them and a manner of utmost respect. Staying close to the melodies, they bow in homage to the legacy of the music. If there is anything negative to say about the recording, it can only be that the group seems deferential and a little hesitant to take things too far afield. But that is really a minor quibble and overall this is a well done and sincere appreciation of the music of John Coltrane, which moves through examples from each phase of his career with grace and humility.
Mostly Coltrane -

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